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Master of Magic

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Master of Magic is a single-player, turn-based 4X strategy game that put players in a fantastical realm of magic and conquest.

As a powerful wizard, you’ll try to dominate two interconnected worlds, all while managing resources, constructing cities, raising armies, and delving into the secrets of spellcasting.

Developed by Simtex and published by MicroProse, this game made its debut on MS-DOS in 1994 and has since carved out a niche for itself as a beloved cult classic in the world of fantasy-themed 4X strategy games.

The Birth of a Fantasy Classic

Drawing inspiration from classic titles like Civilization and Master of Orion, Master of Magic introduces a unique blend of fantasy elements into the 4X strategy genre. Although it never received a direct sequel, its influence is still felt in the realm of gaming.

Many subsequent titles have attempted to capture the magic of the original, but opinions remain divided on whether any have truly succeeded.

In its early versions, Master of Magic had its share of bugs, leading to criticism from reviewers. However, the release of the last official patch, version 1.31, in March 1995 significantly improved the game.

This update fixed numerous bugs and enhanced the game’s AI, leading to more positive reviews.

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Customization and Exploration

Master of Magic offers players the chance to fully customize their characters, from choosing portraits and spell books to selecting abilities and race. With a randomly generated world for each new game, players can fine-tune various settings such as land size, magic strength, and game difficulty.

As a wizard, you’ll shape your destiny by customizing your skills, spell choices, and even your appearance. The game provides a choice of 14 races for your starting city, allowing for diverse gameplay experiences.

The adventure kicks off with your units exploring their surroundings and unraveling the fog of war on the strategic map.

During exploration, you’ll encounter guardian monsters protecting valuable treasures, scout ideal locations for new cities, discover the enigmatic Towers of Wizardry connecting the planes of Arcanus and Myrror, and locate the cities of rival wizards.

Cities play a central role, initially founded by settlers and later upgraded through the addition of buildings. These buildings, in turn, enhance various aspects of the city, including the economy, unit availability, growth rate, mana, and more.

Cities produce vital resources, such as food, gold, and mana, essential for maintaining military units and powering spellcasters in combat. While expanding your territories and establishing new cities, you’ll also delve into the research of magical spells. These spells can be cast both in and out of combat, offering strategic depth.

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The Magic of Spellcasting

Master of Magic divides spells into six distinct schools of magic, each with its unique abilities and effects:

  • Life Magic: Focused on healing and protection
  • Death Magic: Drains life and raises the undead
  • Chaos Magic: Unleashes destructive energies and warps targets
  • Nature Magic: Controls the weather and harnesses its power
  • Sorcery: Manipulates the air and counters other schools’ effects
  • Arcane Magic: A versatile school with spells free for all

Wizards can select spellbooks from their desired schools, allowing them to research and cast spells from those categories. The number of spells a wizard can learn from each school depends on the number of books chosen.

This spell system is inspired by the popular card game, Magic the Gathering.

In addition to spellbooks, players can select traits to gain special bonuses throughout the game. Global spells can have far-reaching effects, unit and city enhancement spells boost their capabilities, and wizards can summon creatures aligned with their schools.

Combat spells, including direct attacks, debuffs, and traps, provide tactical advantages. The pinnacle of magical mastery is the Arcane Spell of Mastery, an immensely powerful spell that can instantly secure victory for the casting player.

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Battle in the Realm of Magic

When two armies converge on the global map, a tactical battle ensues. The isometric view immerses players in the heat of battle, with detailed maps showcasing fortifications and terrain that impact movement and combat.

The two opposing forces face off, taking turns in a series of engagements. Victory is achieved by either eliminating the opponent or forcing them to retreat, with a draw occurring if both sides persist after 50 turns.

In your quest to dominate the realms, you can recruit from a diverse array of 86 unit types sourced from cities to build your armies. Some units, like swordsmen and archers, are generic, while others, such as troll shamans, possess racial bonuses that make them extraordinary.

Additionally, city-recruited units are region-specific and may exhibit special abilities, such as magic use, ranged attacks, or the ability to strike first in combat. Mercenaries offer a unique opportunity to employ units that your cities cannot produce, and you can even summon mythical creatures like demon lords and colossal dragons.

This wealth of units with unique abilities allows for endless strategic possibilities.

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Heroes and Their Impact

Master of Magic introduces a cast of distinct heroes, available for hiring or summoning. These heroes possess special abilities that enhance the efficiency of your military units, granting offensive and defensive bonuses or enabling special attacks.

Heroes may exhibit extraordinary strength, toughness, and various other unique abilities, making them invaluable assets in your quest for domination.

Plot and Setting

The Worlds of Arcanus and Myrror

The stage for Master of Magic is set across two distinct realms: Arcanus and Myrror. Arcanus resembles Earth with its diverse climatic zones and terrain, ranging from lush forests to vast oceans, expansive grasslands, and arid deserts.

Myrror, on the other hand, is a parallel world, teeming with heightened magical forces and hosting extraordinary flora, minerals, and fauna that defy imagination.

These two worlds are inextricably linked through special portals known as the Towers of Wizardry, facilitating the movement of units between realms.

Both Arcanus and Myrror are sprinkled with magical nodes, founts of immense magical power that serve as coveted resources for wizards.

The worlds are populated not only by traditional fantasy races such as elves and halflings but also by races introduced by Simtex’s early games, including the insectoid Klackons.

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Play Master of Magic online

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What inspired Master of Magic's spellcasting system?

The spellcasting system in Master of Magic drew inspiration from the card game Magic the Gathering.

Can I customize my wizard's appearance and abilities?

Absolutely! You have the freedom to choose your wizard’s appearance, spellbooks, abilities, and race.

Are there global spells in the game?

Yes, Master of Magic features global spells that have far-reaching effects on the game world.

How are heroes different from regular units in the game?

Heroes in Master of Magic possess special abilities that enhance the efficiency of other military units and often allow them to perform unique actions.

What is the objective of the game?

The main goal in Master of Magic is to dominate the interconnected worlds of Arcanus and Myrror by expanding your empire and defeating rival wizards through a mix of strategy and magic.